The Athletics announced that veteran right-hander John Axford has been designated for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway’s contract has been selected from Triple-A, and he’ll take Axford’s spot on the 40-man roster. Lavarnway will step into the 25-man roster spot of fellow catcher Josh Phegley, who is headed to the 10-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle. Right-hander Ryan Dull, meanwhile, has been activated from the 10-day disabled list. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser suggested last night that Axford could be designated for assignment to upon Dull’s return.
The 34-year-old Axford posted solid results in the first season of a two-year, $10MM contract with the A’s in 2016, but his longstanding struggles with control have resurfaced in a significant manner in 2017. Axford has issued 17 walks in 21 innings this season, and he’s paired those control troubles with his highest home-run rate since 2013. He’s still averaged a strikeout per inning with a 50 percent ground-ball rate and an average fastball velocity of 95 mph, but his overall ERA rests at 6.43. ERA alternatives such as FIP (5.73), xFIP (5.31) and SIERA (5.17) don’t paint a much rosier picture for Axford’s work in 2017.